Basket Case, 1982.
Directed by Frank Henenlotter.
Starring Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Diana Browne, Lloyd Pace and Bill Freeman.
A young man carrying a big basket that contains his deformed Siamese-twin brother seeks vengeance on the doctors who separated them against their will.
Growing up, Basket Case was a film that was mentioned in the same circles as movies like The Evil Dead and Braindead, usually with the words, “if you liked those, you’ve got to see this”. The first film was made for a small amount of money but grew a cult following (as many films of its ilk did in the early 80s with the advent of home video), spawned two sequels in the 90s and is released today as part of a trilogy boxset.
The first (and probably) best of the series, Basket Case is a horror film of its time. The early 80s were known for its schlock-horror movies that were made for little to no budget with over-the-top violence and high gore levels to mask the low production values, and Basket Case is no exception. Kevin Van Hentenryck plays Duane Bradley, a mysterious man from upstate who visits New York City to seek revenge on the doctors who separated him from his deformed Siamese brother Belial (who looks like the love child of a Boglin and Krang from Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles). However Duane is falling in love with a New Yorker, and Belial is none too happy about it…
What I really like about Basket Case is its slow burn to the reveal of Belial. We all know that something sinister is kept within the wicker basket that Duane keeps close by and whatever is in there is communicating with him telepathically, but we’re not really given an indication of who or what is in there until the middle portion of the movie. Belial is kept out of shot (most likely down to budgetary reasons) which ramps up the suspense for his first on-screen appearance. While done to save on money, it’s a really effective filmmaking tool which makes the film all the more entertaining.
Sadly, this on-screen appearance doesn’t quite live up to today’s (nor its own time period’s) standards of movie special effects. A lot of horror movies that came out around the same era have stood the test of time and can still be watched today without anything that will take you out of the moment but for Basket Case, the reveal of Belial unfortunately does in many respects.
But that’s not to say it ruins the movie. The death scenes are gory and entertaining and the plot is so ridiculous that you can’t help but get drawn in. It does get a little silly towards the end, but it’s still a really enjoyable watch. Definitely one for the horror fans among us who haven’t seen it, and a great trip down memory lane for those who saw it on VHS.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.